Nikola Tesla's Night of Terror

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

290 – "Nikola Tesla's Night of Terror"
Doctor Who episode
Directed byNida Manzoor
Written byNina Metivier
Script editorFiona McAllister
Produced byNikki Wilson
Executive producer(s)
Music bySegun Akinola
SeriesSeries 12
Running time50 minutes
First broadcast19 January 2020 (2020-01-19)
← Preceded by
"Orphan 55"
Followed by →
"Fugitive of the Judoon"
List of Doctor Who episodes (2005–present)

"Nikola Tesla's Night of Terror" is the fourth episode of the twelfth series of the British science fiction television programme Doctor Who, first broadcast on BBC One on 19 January 2020. It was written by Nina Metivier, and directed by Nida Manzoor.

In 1903, the Thirteenth Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) helps Nikola Tesla (Goran Višnjić) escape from being kidnapped by the Skithra aliens, along with the assistance of her companions Graham O'Brien (Bradley Walsh), Ryan Sinclair (Tosin Cole), and Yasmin Khan (Mandip Gill).

The episode was watched by 5.20 million viewers, and received generally positive reviews from critics.


Wardenclyffe Tower in 1904

At Niagara Falls in 1903, Nikola Tesla is unsuccessful in getting investors for his wireless power transmission system as it is seen as dangerous and crazy. After working late fixing his generator, he comes across a floating orb. Feeling endangered, he makes a run with his assistant, Dorothy Skerritt, as a cloaked figure shoots at them. The Doctor arrives in time to help them escape aboard a train headed to New York City, ditching their pursuer by detaching the carriage.

In New York, the group finds protesters waiting outside Tesla's lab, having been goaded into fearing Tesla and his inventions by his competitor Thomas Edison. The Doctor identifies the orb as an Orb of Thassa designed to share knowledge, but repurposed for an unknown cause. After spotting a spy for Edison, the Doctor, Graham and Ryan visit Edison's workshop, suspecting him to be behind the attack on Tesla. The cloaked figure arrives at Edison's lab and fatally electrocutes everyone in the workshop before pursuing Edison. The group escapes and traps one of the creatures in a chemical ring of fire, but it escapes by teleportation. The Doctor tries to warn Tesla and Yaz back at his lab, but the two are captured and transported to an invisible alien ship above the city. The Queen of the Skithra demands they fix her ship. When Tesla refuses, the Queen threatens to kill Yaz, but the Doctor transports herself onto the ship just in time. She learns that the Skithra ship is just a collection of stolen parts from various species and the Skithra just use others to do their work for them. The Skithra also chose Tesla as their "engineer" because he was able to discover their signal while he had been working on his wireless power system.

The Doctor transports herself, Tesla, and Yaz back to Tesla's Wardenclyffe lab. The Doctor warns the Queen to leave, but the Queen refuses, threatening to destroy Earth if Tesla is not handed over. While Tesla and the Doctor hook up the TARDIS to help power Tesla's Wardenclyffe Tower, Graham, Ryan, Yaz, Dorothy and Edison ward off the invading scorpion-like Skithra. The Tower activates, and electrical bolts shoot through the Skithra ship, forcing it to leave Earth. Yaz is disappointed that despite Tesla's heroics, his reputation in the future remained unchanged, but the Doctor reminds her that Tesla's vision for a wireless world will still come to pass.



"Nikola Tesla's Night of Terror" was written by Nina Metivier, who had worked as a script editor on the previous series.[1][2]


Robert Glenister and Goran Višnjić were cast,[3] as Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla respectively.[4] Glenister previously appeared on Doctor Who as the android Salateen in the 1984 serial The Caves of Androzani.[5] Anjli Mohindra, who had previously portrayed Rani Chandra in the Doctor Who spin-off The Sarah Jane Adventures, played Queen Skithra.[6][2] Further cast members were announced in Doctor Who Magazine #547 in early January 2020.[2]


Nida Manzoor directed the third block, consisting of the fourth and fifth episodes.[7][2] The sets for 1903 New York City were located at Nu Boyana Film Studios in Sofia, Bulgaria.[8]


The trailer for the episode was released after the broadcast of the previous episode, "Orphan 55".[9]

Broadcast and reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Rotten Tomatoes (Tomatometer)89%[10]
Rotten Tomatoes (Average Score)7/10[10]
Review scores
The A.V. ClubB+[11]
Entertainment WeeklyB[12]
Radio Times[13]
The Independent[14]
The Telegraph[15]


"Nikola Tesla's Night of Terror" aired on 19 January 2020.[16]


"Nikola Tesla's Night of Terror" was watched by 4.04 million viewers overnight, making it the sixth most watched programme for the day in the United Kingdom.[17] The episode had an Audience Appreciation Index score of 79.[18] The episode received an official total of 5.20 million viewers across all UK channels.[18]

Critical reception[edit]

The episode holds an approval rating of 89% on Rotten Tomatoes and an average of 7/10 based on 18 reviews. The website's critical consensus reads, "If a tad light on meaning, "Nikola Tesla's Night of Terror" is still an enjoyable historical romp that benefits greatly from Jodie Whittaker and guest star Goran Visnjic’s crackling chemistry."[10]


  1. ^ "Berlin Associates » Nina Metivier".
  2. ^ a b c d Laford, Andrea (9 January 2020). "Doctor Who Series 12: new episode titles, writers and descriptions". Cult Box. Retrieved 9 January 2020.
  3. ^ "Goran Višnjić and Robert Glenister to appear in series 12!". BBC. 22 November 2019.
  4. ^ "Doctor Who series 12 confirms who will play Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla". Digital Spy. 7 December 2019.
  5. ^ Jeffrey, Morgan (19 January 2020). "Doctor Who: 9 big questions after Nikola Tesla's Night of Terror". Radio Times. Retrieved 21 January 2020.
  6. ^ Laford, Andrea (10 June 2019). "Doctor Who Series 12: new director, actor, character discovered". Cultbox.
  7. ^ Laford, Andrea (22 November 2019). "Goran Višnjić and Robert Glenister to appear in Doctor Who series 12 episode". Cultbox. Retrieved 27 November 2019.
  8. ^ Martin, Dan (19 January 2020). "Doctor Who recap: series 38, episode four – Nikola Tesla's Night of Terror". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 January 2020.
  9. ^ "Doctor Who releases trailer for next episode 'Nikola Tesla's Night of Terror'". Digital Spy. 12 January 2020. Retrieved 18 January 2020.
  10. ^ a b c "Doctor Who - Season 12 Episode 4". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 25 January 2020.
  11. ^ Siede, Caroline (19 January 2020). "Nikola Tesla elevates an electric Doctor Who". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 22 January 2020.
  12. ^ Coggan, Devan (19 January 2020). "Doctor Who recap: Season 12, episode 4: 'Nikola Tesla's Night of Horror'". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 22 January 2020.
  13. ^ "Doctor Who Nikola Tesla's Night of Terror review". Radio Times. 19 January 2020.
  14. ^ "Doctor Who review – Nikola Tesla's Night of Terror: A lot of fun, but unlikely to beat Dancing on Ice in the ratings war". The Independent. 19 January 2020. Archived from the original on 21 June 2022.
  15. ^ Hogan, Michael (22 January 2020). "Doctor Who: Nikola Tesla's Night of Terror, episode 4 recap: back on form with this old-fashioned sci-fi romp". The Telegraph – via
  16. ^ "BBC Doctor Who Episode 4". BBC. 8 January 2020. Retrieved 8 January 2020.
  17. ^ Marcus (20 January 2020). "Nikola Tesla's Night of Terror - Overnight Viewing Figures". Doctor Who News. Retrieved 20 January 2020.
  18. ^ a b Marcus (27 January 2020). "Nikola Tesla's Night of Terror - Official Ratings". Doctor Who News. Retrieved 28 January 2020.

External links[edit]